Rating: FR13 because of the subject matter addressed.
Disclaimer: Is this really necessary? All of the Buffy characters belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, etc. Michael Harmon and Anastasia Rakovich belong to John Ringo. I'm just borrowing them for a while. There is no intent to profit from this. Only the story is mine, and if anyone waves enough money in front of me, even that is negotiable.
Category: A quick ficlet response to TTH Challenge #1578: In Jim Baen’s Memory
Summary: Jim Baen passed away on June 28th. The Challenge (which I admit is rather broad and vague): write a short piece with your favorite Buffy character interacting with your favorite Baen Books Character. I know it can be done as I've already read a few right here at TTH.
Time frame: Post 'Chosen.'
Character Bashing: None.
Feedback: Of course! It's like food, water and air to a writer.
Archiving: Check with me first, please.
Author's Note: Thanks to Lori Bush, Tim Joy, Bill Haden and Drake the Archr for beta-ing this story.
Title: Requiem, Regrets and A Reunion
The room was relatively quiet as they entered, the muted buzzing of various subdued conversations filling the air, almost but not quite drowning out the insipid organ music that meandered through the room like a bad odor. The front few rows of chairs were all filled by coworkers (both NATO and Council) and friends, but they were ignored except insofar as they were reflexively evaluated and then categorized as being of little to no-threat potential and then pretty much dismissed from conscious consideration.
They quietly joined the end of the long line of mourners, ignoring the whispers and sometimes not-at-all subtle pointing fingers of the other people in the room commenting on their battered and hard-worn appearance and waited patiently for their turn to come.
The minutes passed by and finally, it was time for them to kneel and pay their respects, before stepping over and speaking to the pregnant, dark-haired woman in the black dress standing by the coffin.
"Sam, I'm so sorry for your loss," Xander Harris said as he enveloped the somber-eyed brunette in a hug, the anguish in his eyes clearly conveying the depth of his feelings. “I don’t think I have to tell you just how much good Rye accomplished or how much he’ll be missed, do I?
"We only found out what happened this morning, when we got to back from the – job – we were out on.” He knew she’d understand exactly what he meant since that particular euphemism was one most often used by Riley’s group. “Once we heard, the two of us got cleaned up and headed over as quick as we could, so that we wouldn't miss the ceremony," he went on, a vague wave semi-explaining the bandages and their clearly battered condition, evident despite the well-tailored clothes they were wearing.
"Buffy would've wanted to be here with us, but she's kinda in a coma right now, and Willow and Giles are – out of town at the moment and don’t even know yet. They’re negotiating with D'Hoffryn and trying to work out some kind of mutual aid pact against some of his – competitors. You know how those things can go,” he added with a grimace, and Sam gave him a small nod of acknowledgement.
“Yeah, I know exactly what you mean,” she said, in a subdued voice. “Rye was part of a rescue team that had to intervene in a Grox’Lar summit last year.”
"I'm so sorry about Rye, Sam," Dawn Summers repeated Xander's greeting, tears glistening in her eyes as she stepped up next to Xander and awkwardly hugged the other woman, the sling supporting her left arm interfering with her movement. "How are you doing? Is there anything we can do for you? Anything at all? From what I remember Rye saying last year, what with your parents being gone, you're alone now, except for a brother, right?
"If there’s anything you need, Sam, anything at all, all you have to do is ask," she declared, an earnest expression on her face as she pulled back to look their friend square in the eye.
"Thanks, guys, I really appreciate the offer," Sam gave them a sad but appreciative smile as she hugged them both, "and I guess I'm doing about as well as can be expected.
"My brother flew into town yesterday and he's going to be staying with me for a few days," she informed them with a tired attempt at a smile. “He owns some property over in Eastern Europe, in the Caucasus mountains, and he's invited me to stay with him, at least until the baby is born, and I'm thinking I'm probably going to take him up on his offer.
"It's not like I have anything really keeping me here, anymore," she said, her eyes threatening to fill up with tears again, which she quickly brushed away.
"Anyway, come on over with me and let me introduce you to him," she forced a wan smile onto her face. "He’s ex-Navy, and Rye used to joke that he was a decent enough guy despite that, so I think you guys should probably get along just fine."
Taking the two by the arm, her rather slow pace mandated more by Xander’s injured leg than her own condition, Sam led them across the room to where a muscular, brown-haired, brown-eyed man in a well-made dark suit was standing and making small talk with a gorgeous long-legged blonde with entrancing blue eyes, who was wearing an equally well-made, subdued black dress.
Both Xander and Dawn noted the subtle cues indicating that the man was aware of their approach well before he turned to face them, but the expression on his face as he turned and looked at Sam clearly held only concern and affection.
"Dawn, Xander," Sam said as she let the older man slip a protective arm around her shoulders as she introduced them, "I want you to meet my brother, Michael Harmon, and his friend, Anastasia Rakovich."
For those of you who don’t recognize the crossover, Mike Harmon is the main character in John Ringo's 'Ghost" series.